Saturday, 31 January 2009

Top albums of 2008 include 10 years of EWOB

Liz Meyer reports:

We're pleased to announce that 10 years of EWOB [Strictly Country Records SCR-66] made the Top 10 Albums of 2008 on the Folk Radio Chart, representing radio airplay on Folk & Bluegrass radio shows. (The chart is international but is concentrated mostly in the USA and Canada.)

These DJs, who select from a wide range of folk and bluegrass albums, not only recognise the historical and cultural significance of this release, but report being surprised and delighted by the high level of musicianship and the quality of the recordings. In fact, 10 years of EWOB is the ONLY bluegrass album to make the Top 10!

For the top 123 albums on the Folk Radio Chart, see this list on the EWOB Festival website. The five most-played tracks from 10 years of EWOB are:

1) Fragment, 'Fields of gold'
2) Rawhide, 'The typewriter'
3) Liz Meyer with Nugget, 'I've got a feelin''
4) Claire Lynch Band, 'A little further in the hole'
5) The Chapmans, 'Cold and lonely'

Bluegrass Masterclass, 11-12 April 2009

Thanks to Claude Rossat for news of a Bluegrass Masterclass, to be held at La Grange Rouge, just off the D12 road at 71500 La Chapelle-Naude, Louhans (eastern France, between Lyons and Dijon), on 11-12 April 2009. The instructors are Byron Berline (fiddle, mandolin), Jim Hurst (guitar), and Alan Munde (banjo).

The full package (€180) includes:

Sat. 11 Apr.: 10.00 a.m.-12.30 p.m., 2.00-6.00 p.m.
Sun. 12 Apr.: 10.00 a.m.-1.00 p.m., 3.00-5.00 p.m.

Friday night to Sunday morning (2 nights) at the La Grange Rouge dorm (workshop site)
Please bring a pair of sheets or a sleeping bag.

breakfast/lunch/dinner on Saturday
breakfast/ lunch on Sunday
(workshop site)

Saturday night, 11 Apr., at the Louhans Theater (2 miles from the workshop site). Admission: €12/€9. The concert, featuring these three legendary pickers, is a unique event and not part of a tour.

Full details, including an application form, can be found here.

Red Wine Bluegrass Party, 13-14 Feb. 2009: update

After their successful 30th Birthday Celebration concert in February 2008, Red Wine (Italy) return a year later to the Teatro Della Gioventù in their home town of Genova, bringing an acoustic music party to their audience - mostly bluegrass but also open to side roads for a genre that has always seen all possible influences and evolutions as an integral part of its history.

Red Wine’s sound is firmly planted in traditional bluegrass, but has always striven to draw inspiration from different sources, and to adapt the typical bluegrass sound to songs that have a different flavour and which spring from roots that are definitely not in the North-American tradition.

Tim O'Brien (USA), as most acoustic music fans know well, has always been a scholar of the 'Old-Timey' tradition from which bluegrass music has sprung, and at the same time also an eclectic interpreter of the most various genres, even non-traditional, from western swing to jug-band music to old-style country music. He is an incredible multi-instrumentalist and a fantastic songwriter and singer, who can boast great technique and rare intensity and sensitivity. His career has seen him singing lead and playing mandolin and fiddle with the trail-blazing and trend-setting band Hot Rize (one of the most exciting groups in the history of bluegrass), a brief bout as a 'mainstream country' singer, and in recent years an intense work in rediscovering his own roots in Irish music and in establishing a new bridge between Irish and North-American traditional music. Tim O’Brien is truly a unique artist in the history of contemporary North-American music, as attested by the Grammy Awards he has won.

The Red Wine Bluegrass Party that will take place at the Teatro Della Gioventù, Genova, on 13-14 February 2009, will offer something various and eclectic to the audience, although mostly within the albeit ample path of the North-American musical tradition. There will be mostly bluegrass for sure, but it will be performed by a band and a musician that have always had very broad musical scope and taste.

The flyer for the Party can be seen here. Tim O'Brien - as announced on 10 January on the European Bluegrass Blog - will give mandolin workshops on the morning and afternoon of Saturday 14 February, as well as his concert performances with Red Wine.

'THE BLUEGRASS PARTY': Red Wine and special guest TIM O’BRIEN in concert!
Friday 13th and Saturday 14th February 2009 – h. 21,30
Teatro della Gioventù, Via Cesarea, 16121 Genova
Tel. +39 0108936326; fax +39 0105848721
On line ticket sale here

Friday, 30 January 2009


Strictly Country Records of the Netherlands has a full-page advertisement for its recent releases in the February 2009 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited, the world's premier print magazine for bluegrass music.

The ad, which can be seen here, features nine major SCR releases: the two-CD set 10 years of EWOB; Liz Meyer, THE STORM; Paul Craft, Too bad you're no good; Dan Paisley & the Southern Grass, Forty years of trouble; the Waller Brothers, The old photograph; Jonathan Edwards, Rollin' along; David Olney, Lenora; Si Kahn, Thanksgiving; and Chris Jones, Live in Holland 1985-2004.

Strictly Country Records also produces the series of CDs of the annual European World of Bluegrass.

Strictly Country Records
PO Box 628
2130 AP Hoofddorp
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 297-347 101
Fax: +31 297-347 488

Help save historic instruments

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum in Nashville, TN, has launched a $1.1 million fund-raising campaign to enable it to retain and display four instruments of unique significance in the history of country music: Maybelle Carter's Gibson L-5 guitar, two Martin guitars that belonged to Johnny Cash, and the Lloyd Loar Gibson F-5 mandolin #73987 that was Bill Monroe's prime instrument.

The full story can be read here. Ricky Skaggs has said: 'This is an equal-opportunity challenge to the greatest fans in the world... Twenty–five cents is as significant as a gift of $25,000.'

The Precious Jewel Fund already has $450,000 and needs to have the remaining $750,000 by 22 February 2009. Persons interested in making a tax-deductible contribution may do so online, by mail, and by telephone. Gifts by mail may be sent to Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, 222 Fifth Avenue South, Mail Drop DP, Nashville, Tennessee 37203, USA. Cheques should be made out to the Country Music Foundation. Please specify 'Precious Jewel Fund'. For credit card contributions, call +1 615/416-2050; all major credit cards are accepted.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

A website of links to bluegrass information

Thanks to Willem Ruiter from Voorthuizen, the Netherlands - world-famous as the location for EBMA's annual European World of Bluegrass Festival - for news of a labour of love which he is building on the internet.

Willem, as well as being a great fan of bluegrass, is keen on using his computer for the benefit of the music. He is therefore working on a website, 'The home of the brave', which gives links to the websites of bluegrass bands in Europe, the US, and Australia, and of bluegrass magazines and media, associations, record suppliers, instrument makers, and other sites of bluegrass interest.

The site therefore makes available online much of the same kind of information which the EBMA's European Bluegrass Directory presents in print. The two sources complement one another - the Directory can include data which are not on the internet, while the website includes a great deal of information which is not confined to Europe. Check out Willem's website; it is well worth visiting.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Win a free weekend at a Northern Ireland festival

Audiences Northern Ireland reports:

Courtesy of Tourism Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, you could be winging your way to one of six premier music festivals in Ireland in 2009. The prize includes flights, accommodation and tickets to the event - all you have to do is enjoy the gigs!

The six events are the Féile an Earraigh (Belfast, 5-8 February), the 5th Belfast Nashville Songwriters' Festival (Belfast, 18-22 February), the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival (Belfast, 30 April-10 May), the 18th Appalachian and Bluegrass Music Festival (Omagh, 4-6 September), the Open House Festival (Belfast, 23-7 September), and the William Kennedy Piping Festival (Armagh, 12-15 November).

The free flights are from anywhere in the UK. Details are on the NI Festivals website, where you can enter by signing up for the NI Festivals newsletter and indicating which festivals you'd like to visit.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Ken Orrick

Ken Orrick on stage with Lost Highway in Switzerland, 2001

Lilly Pavlak sends the sad news of the death of Ken Orrick, well known in Europe as the lead singer and guitar player of the California band Lost Highway, who toured several times this side of the Atlantic. He had a massive heart attack on Saturday 24 January, while at home with his mother, sister, and son, and died before the ambulance could arrive. His body is to be cremated without a service, and the ashes scattered on his grandmother's grave in Tennessee.

Ken was originally from Smithville, TN, and his first band was a gospel group called the Premanaires, which included Faye, older sister of Iris DeMent. Lost Highway was originally formed in 1975, and broke up in the 1980s; Ken reassembled the band in 1996. Thanks to Bluegrass Bios for information.

More on Ken, including tributes from those who knew him, can now be found on the Bluegrass Blog. His music will be featured on Friedrich Hog's 'Americana 260' radio show on Radio Free Ulm, Monday 2 February.

Lilly of the West on YouTube

Thanks to Lilly Drumeva, who brought her band Lilly of the West to the Czech Cultural Centre in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 15 January (see the European Bluegrass Blog for 19 January), for this link to a YouTube video of one of the numbers Lilly and the band performed that evening - 'Loving you'.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Dangem Banjo Camp in Northern Ireland, 27 Feb.-1 Mar. 2009

John Dowling among leprechauns

'Forty-eight hours of total banjo immersion... Spend a weekend away from the toil and cares of everyday life, with nothing to do but learn about the 5-string banjo from world-famous teacher John Dowling, play, jam, and possibly even sleep!'

That's what is waiting for attenders at the Dangem Banjo Camp 2009 (5-string Scruggs style), to be held from Friday 27 Feb. to Sunday 1 Mar. 2009 in Corrs Corner Hotel, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Dangem Bluegrass and Deering Banjos will bring John Dowling to Northern Ireland for the first time ever. From Cornwall, UK, John took up the banjo at the age of 12, and in 2002 he was sponsored by the ACLAIM (Acoustically Live And Inclusive Music) organisation to enter the prestigious National Bluegrass Banjo Championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas, USA. He won the first prize, a very large trophy, and a new banjo worth $4,500. John is the first European ever to have won this award.

John was an experienced teacher before he won the award, and in the BBC1 TV series ‘Play it again’, he helped to prepare comedian Frank Skinner to enter the Winfield banjo contest. He was also a teacher at the 2nd Munich Banjo Camp in November 2008.

Costs for the weekend are:

Tuition only: £100.00
Single room B&B for the weekend and full tuition: £240.00
Twin room B&B for the weekend and full tuition for two persons sharing: £350.00 Total
Twin room B&B for the weekend and full tuition for one person with non-playing partner sharing: £280.00 Total

An application form with full details can be found here. Deposits (details on the application form) should be sent by cheque payable to Derek Lockhart, 101 Belfast Road, Magheralin, Craigavon, Co. Armagh, BT67 0RP, Northern Ireland. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. Deposits should be received no later than 6 Feb. For more info, call Derek (07802364846) or e-mail.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

The Stanley Brothers (1966) on DVD

Thanks to Karl Heinz Siber of Germany for drawing attention on the IBMA-L e-mail list to a DVD, Festival of American Folk & Country Music 1966, which is scheduled for release on 31 January 2009 by the German Tropical Music company. It includes footage of the Stanley Brothers & the Clinch Mountain Boys, as well as the New Lost City Ramblers, Roscoe Holcomb, Tracy Schwarz, Cyprien Landreneau, and Cousin Emmy.

This package of artists was assembled by the German music agency of Lippmann & Rau, with the advice of Arhoolie Records' founder Chris Strachwitz (born in Germany). The tour was not a commercial success, but the artists were brought to the studio of the German radio and TV network SWF in Baden-Baden, where a 60-minute program was recorded live. It was broadcast once, and then lay in SWF archives for forty years.

In 2008 Claus Schreiner, founder and head of Tropical Music, obtained permission to release this show on DVD. Running time has been cut to 44 minutes, but we hear on good authority that the sound and video quality (black and white) is excellent. Tropical Music's German-language press release on this DVD can be seen here. The Stanley Brothers & the Clinch Mountain Boys are shown performing 'How mountain gals can love' and 'Rank stranger'. Karl Heinz Siber adds:

An aspect of historical significance in this is that this is probably one of the last recorded shows that the Stanley Brothers made. Carter Stanley died in early December of 1966, just nine months after the recording session in Baden-Baden.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Special Consensus tour on the Bluegrass Blog

Perhaps you can't attend any of the shows in the current tour (14 Jan.-3 Feb. 2009) of Ireland and Britain by the Special Consensus (USA)?

You can still learn how it looks from the band's point of view by reading a blog by Ashby Frank, the Special C. mandolinist and lead singer, which is being published as a serial on the original Bluegrass Blog.

Three chapters, including photos and videos, have appeared so far: 'Into the South', 'County Clare', and 'From Galway to Listowel'. The tour still has two weeks to run.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Lilly of the West celebrates 15 years anniversary!

On Thursday 15 January 2009, Lilly of the West performed at the Czech Cultural Centre in the heart of Sofia, Bulgaria. It marked the beginning of regular Thursday concert evenings hosted by the Czech institute, and the fifteenth anniversary of the band.

Lilly and band-colleagues Yasen (guitar), Ivan (violin), Bodie (bass) and Borislav (drums) performed for two hours a compelling mix of country, bluegrass, Irish, jazz, blues, and pop classics. The show was structured in three parts, including solo performances by each band-member and duets. A highlight was the band’s interpretation of Piazzolla’s well known piece 'Libertango'.

The concert was well attended by Sofia’s elite; among the guests was also Bulgarian radio legend Toma Sprostranov. Guests and musicians were welcomed by Mr Michal Pospisil, Czech cultural attaché in Bulgaria, and enjoying a pint of Czech beer and snacks. What a wonderful way to start the new season!

Lilly Drumeva's original text, together with three photos from the concert, can be seen here.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Mountain Heart at major English festival

Richard F Thompson of the BBMA reports:

Mountain Heart (USA), who are scheduled to appear at the Didmarton Festival this September, has announced the return of Clay Jones to their lineup.

Following the departure of Clay Hess, Mountain Heart, who will be the headline band at the Didmarton Festival, 4-6 September, welcome Clay Jones once more to their number.

Mountain Heart consists of Josh Shilling (rhythm guitar), Jim Van Cleve (fiddle), Barry Abernathy (banjo), Jason Moore (bass), Aaron Ramsey (mandolin), and Jones (lead guitar). Their most recent album is Road that never ends: the live album, recorded at the Ark, Ann Arbor, Michigan, in March 2007.

Full details for the Didmarton Festival, which takes at Kemble Airfield, near Cirencester, Gloucestershire, will be available soon.

Richard F Thompson, 14 Lime Grove, Lichfield, Staffordshire, England, WS13 6ER; 'phone +44 (0)1543 252683; e-mail

Thursday, 15 January 2009

European bluegrass videos welcome on ZGrass

Following the European Bluegrass Blog post of 29 Nov. 2008, Kris Trump, director of the ZGrass internet TV channel, reports:

The ZGrass website is up and running with some audio of our friends the Country Gentlemen, and we are still refining it each day. ZGrass will be streaming by 1 April 2009 and we look forward to getting video and promoting bluegrass artists from Europe. Any assistance you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

We can color correct, audio correct, and clean up a lot of old footage, but would prefer to have Beta SP or Pal to edit for broadcast. We can also convert a DVD for broadcast; but remember, the quality is not as good as tape.

ZGrass is the trade name of Bluegrass Music Channel, LLC ('The Company'). It is an innovative music video marketer and television programming service, with a niche focus on Bluegrass Music Worldwide. The Company has successfully developed partnerships with both local and national artists to provide a premier national showcase for their performances. ZGrass will deliver a programming impact to a grass-roots community of more than 76 million dedicated fans.

ZGrass develops, markets, and supports bluegrass music intensive video programming service for the IPTV industry. The Company owns, or has the right to exhibit, many hours of bluegrass video footage.

We hope you enjoy our dream of presenting the Bluegrass Music Channel to IPTV in the US, Europe, and Asia. Zgrass will change the way television is programmed forever. With our emphasis on the smaller, lesser-known groups, all music, all day, and all the time, you have video of your group; Zgrass will broadcast your music 24/7 throughout the World. 'Lil' Stars' are ZGrass's biggest stars.

Contact Kris Trump, director of ZGrass, by e-mail.

Hootenanny Festival at Lisbon, Portugal: 2-7 Feb. 2009

Thanks to EBMA member André Luis de Figueiredo Lentilhas from Ferragudo, Portugal, who reports that banjo legend Tony Trischka (USA) (left) will be among the artists taking part in the Hootenanny Festival at Culturgest, Rua Arco do Cego, 1000-300 Lisboa (Lisbon), Portugal.

The Hootenanny Festival, which runs from 2 February to 7 February 2009, also features Mike Seeger (USA), the single most important figure in the old-time music revival, and Ira Bernstein & Riley Baugus (USA), two of the best old-time musicians now playing.

Tony Trischka's Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular concert will be on 7 February. For more details and sound tracks, see the festival web page.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Butch Baldassari

Butch Baldassari with The Grass is Greener in Owensboro, 1995 (photo: Lilly Pavlak)

Lilly Pavlak writes:

I just returned from the Czech Republic and got the sad news, that Butch passed away yesterday morning [Saturday 10 January] after a long battle with the brain cancer. He was a dear friend and a great musician. I met him in '95 with The Grass is Greener, and because the tour of the band I planned did not happen, he and Bill Keith joined Sharon Cort & New River Ranch for the European tour in '97. So he was on the Continent for the last time then - they played in Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and England.

Other features on Butch Baldassari's life and death can be found on the Bluegrass Blog, and a Nashville Tennessean obituary is here.

Lilly with Butch and other members of New River Ranch in Neusüdende, during his last visit to Europe

Lilly's last photo of Butch, at IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2005

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Concerts at the New Acoustic Gallery, 2009

Oliver Waitze of the New Acoustic Gallery wishes all 'Acoustic Music Lovers' a happy and healthy New Year!

In 2009 the Gallery will celebrate its fifth birthday with a series of special concerts, beginning with a classical guitar recital by Ana Vidovic (left) on 8 March at 19:00. Admission is €30, and those who do not yet have tickets are advised to book as soon as possible by telephone: +49 0212/2474007.

Other New Acoustic Gallery concerts scheduled for 2009 are:

30 March: Krüger Brothers Band
2 June: Joscho Stephan Trio plus Richard Smith
29-30 August: 1st NAG Mandolin Festival with Mike Marshall, Caterina Lichtenberg, Don Stiernberg, Trio Vibracao...
31 October: Trio Vibracao
6 December: Beppe Gambetta

Details on all the artists can be found on the Gallery's website.

Oliver Waitze
New Acoustic Gallery
Neuenhofer Str. 122
42657 Solingen, Germany
Tel.: +49 0212/2474007

Tim O'Brien Mandolin Workshop in Genova (Italy), SATURDAY 14th Feb 2009

Martino Coppo of Redwine reports:
On the occasion of "THE BLUEGRASS PARTY" that Red Wine will host in Genova on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th February 2009, at the Teatro della Gioventù, Tim O'Brien will hold a unique bluegrass/folk mandolin workshop.
The workshop will take place at Casa Della Musica (Via Marino Boccanegra 15, I-16126 Genova–Area Darsena, PALAZZINA METELINO, 3rd floor, tel. +39-010-4213090), on Saturday, 14th February 2009, at the following times: 10:30 to 12:30 am, and 2:00 to 6:00 pm.
The fee is Euro 60,00 per person, and Euro 50,00 if you also purchase a ticket for the evening show.
For information and/or to register please contact Martino Coppo or Casa della Musica (E-mail), Segreteria +39-010.4213090; +39-010. 4213089.
The number of participants is limited, so sign up now!!

Friday, 9 January 2009

New releases from Rural Rhythm

The latest releases from Rural Rhythm include No turning back, the twelfth album by the Lonesome River Band; and Audie Blaylock and Redline, the first RR album by this band.

No turning back has already made a big impact on bluegrass charts, scoring #1 on Bluegrass Music Profiles 'Top 10 Albums' this month. Audie Blaylock and Redline, full of the hard-driving traditional sound, will be released on 27 January; both CDs can already be bought from Rural Rhythm or from the bands' own websites.

Not G2

Thanks to Fred Bartenstein of the IBMA for this link to a video posted on YouTube by a contributor in Sweden.

No, the video doesn't show G2: it shows a trio (bass guitar, rhythm guitar, and electric lead guitar) picking 'Sweet Georgia Brown' and 'Bye bye blues' in a farmyard, with the tempo and percussive element coming from a tractor with the engine running.

It's good to see this return to the roots of country music. Electric instruments, of course, would not be allowed at a bluegrass event. We're not sure if there's been any ruling so far on diesel power...

Fred Bartenstein, among his many other accomplishments in bluegrass, conducts the annual IBMA Leadership Bluegrass classes. He did a similar fine job for the IBMA's International Summit meeting at World of Bluegrass 2008, and will do the same for the European Summit to be held in Bühl/Baden, south-west Germany, on 7-8 February 2009.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Sore Fingers Week 2009 is now booking!

John Wirtz, chairman of the British Bluegrass Music Association and organiser of Sore Fingers Summer Schools, reports:

The finance department at Sore Fingers Summer Schools has just released a press release carrying very good news for potential European students this year.

As the Pound Sterling is generally collapsing in the face of intense pressure from all quarters, those in the Euro zone will find Sore Fingers Week (13-17 April 2009) a lot cheaper than in previous years. The strength of the Euro against the Pound Sterling means a saving of up to 25% compared to the cost of Sore Fingers Week 2008.

So here’s a good opportunity to bring back the Europeans who have been less eager to come because of the exchange rate in recent years. Furthermore, the line up for this year’s event is just fantastic and we have places on most classes should you be interested.

Our fabulous line up of tutors is as follows:

Autoharp – Karen Mueller
Bass – Eric Thorin
Banjo – Both banjo courses are full!
Dobro – Jimmy Heffernan
Fiddle – Casey Driessen
Guitar – Eric Uglum
Mandolin – John Moore
Old Time Banjo – Joe Newberry
Old Time Fiddle – John Herrmann
Songwriting – Darrell Scott
Singing – John Lowell
Beginners – Stewart Williams

The camp is run at Kingham Hill School which is situated about 25 km north-west of the famous city of Oxford. There is a main line rail station at Kingham and we run a bus to and from the station to pick up students.

There are good communications to Kingham from major airports London Heathrow, London Gatwick, and London Stansted. Travellers using Eurostar can reach Kingham by changing stations in London. There is additional travel information on the website and if in doubt, please contact us (e-mail) and we will help.

Sore Fingers Week offers the closest experience to what you would get at a camp in the US but without the stress of a cross-Atlantic flight. All the main courses are taught by top musicians carefully selected for their ability to teach. Sore Fingers Week has been ranked in the top ten camps in the world, and it is a real benefit to have a facility of this quality over here in Europe.

And, Sore Fingers Week isn’t just a school. There are plenty of activities after classes, sessions in the bars and around the site, evening classes, lots of fun, and the inevitable bar where people get to meet and make lifelong friends. There is also an opportunity to join a student band and participate in the annual Sore Fingers Week Student concert. A real highlight.

The five-day courses conclude with a tutor concert - a unique show featuring all the teaching staff, and a concert that never disappoints.

Over the years, many from Europe have been to the event and some have become regulars; and since music is an international language, communication is never a problem!

There is more information about the courses and the tutors on our website. Look forward to meeting you at Sore Fingers Week 2009!

MasterGrass Society events, 2009

Thanks to Dee Hallett of the British Bluegrass Music Association for the news that the MasterGrass Society meets at Café de Meester, Zuidbuurtseweg 57, 2381 AE Zoeterwoude, the Netherlands, on an intermittent basis throughout the year.

The MasterGrass calendar for 2009 begins next week on Wednesday 14 January with a jam session. Further jam sessions are scheduled for:
Wednesday 11 March
Wednesday 9 September
Wednesday 11 November

On Wednesday 27 May the MasterGrass Society will host the 11th MidWOB mini-Bluegrass festival as part of the programme of events in EWOB 2009. For more information please call +31-(0)71-5801537 or e-mail.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Bononia Grass stars on OurStage

Paolo Ercoli (right) at the EWOB 2008 dobro workshop

Paolo Ercoli of Bononia Grass (Italy) reports that the band has had great success on OurStage in 2008. In the latest OurStage bluegrass charts, Bononia Grass have the Top Tracks, and rank among the Most Played, Most Fan Favourite, and Top Fan Clubs.

In November they won first place (among 454 entries) for Video Live Performances with their song 'Moundsville Pen', which put them on the charts for Top Videos and Most Played.

In the December charts they were again on Top Videos and Most Played; won the #3 spot with their video of 'Clinch Mountain Backstep'; and won the #1 spot in the Bluegrass category - among 71 entries from all over the world - with 'In the gravel yard'.

Paolo also took part in the dobro workshop at EWOB 2008 (see photo above) and presented a dobro workshop at the 20th North Wales Bluegrass Festival, where Bononia Grass were performing along with their friends Special Consensus (USA).

The Special Consensus will begin another tour of Ireland and Britain next week.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Nechville's New Year Extravaganza Sale

Tom Nechville of Nechville Musical Products, who has brought his innovative instruments, accessories, and know-how to Europe many times, sends the season's greetings, together with news of recent developments and great deals on new instruments. Tom says:

Take note of our specials on electronic gear, and miscellaneous merchandise, including banjo pickups, armrests, and bridges. I even have a couple of nice Northwoods guitars left.

* New lightweight tone ring options
* New model - Athena
* Nechville right- or left-hand neck on a Vintage pot - using the Flux Capacitor
* New open-back, block-wood-body Hybrid banjo
* List of holiday specials - sale extended!
* Northwoods guitars - solid spruce tops, bone nut and saddle, super nice sounding and playing for $250.
* Electric banjo in stock
* Gr-33 Synth Controller

Call now: sales office +1-253-670-3208; shop +1-952-888-9710, +1-612-275-6602

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike in Zurich, 20 Dec. 2008

Thanks to Lilly Pavlak for these photos, taken at the Restaurant Lerchenberg, Zürich, Switzerland, on Saturday 20 December, showing Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike playing the last show in their December 2008 European tour. The band had had two free days since the tour began on 2 December, and had travelled long distances (sometimes in snow) through Germany, Holland, and Switzerland.

Lilly adds that the Zurich audience was 'just crazy about them', and insisted on seven encores before the band left the stage. Valerie Smith and Becky Buller sang Christmas carols in German, and everyone joined them in 'Silent night/ Stille Nacht'.

A happy band at the end of a hectic tour

La Roche Bluegrass Festival 2009, France

Christopher Howard-Williams and Philip Didier of the France Bluegrass Musique Association report on this year's La Roche Bluegrass Festival (29 July-2 August) in the French Alps:

Hello everyone,

We are open for applications to the festival. Please find information and application form attached. We have a new website. (If you have a website, please consider adding us as a link. Thank you.)

Some of you have already sent a CD or MP3 tracks. It is not neccessary to send again, but please complete and return the form. Deadline for applications is 31 January. You will hear back from us by mid March.

American bands playing at the festival this year are Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain and Chris & Sally Jones. One other hopefully to be confirmed. European bands playing as guests are Monogram (contest winners 2008), Vodopad and Philippe Naudot (festival committee choice), and Acousticure (winners EBMA EWOB 2008).

We wish you all an excellent new year with health, happiness, and harmony, and we look forward to hearing from you and maybe seeing you.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Bonne Année y'all!

Thierry, Sharon, Jean-Marie, et James: Blue Railroad Train

Nous disons adieux à 2008 en vous remerciant de votre amitié. Et nous vous souhaitons un très heureux 2009, plein de bonheur, de joie, et de la musique !

As we say goodbye to 2008, we thank you for your friendship. And we wish you a very happy 2009 full of Joy and Music!

Tim O'Brien in concert at Wick Village Hall, 5 Feb. 2009

Thanks to Richard F. Thompson for the news that Tim O’Brien will include a show in the West Country of England in a short tour in the first week of February 2009, following his appearances at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, Scotland. He will be appearing in Wick Village Hall, Manor Road, Wick, Bristol BS30 5RA, and will be supported by The Big Dog (Paul Godden and John 'Ned' Edwards).

In Tim’s shows he plays guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, fiddle, and banjo on a wide range of songs including his latest compositions as well as his old favourites; he has also brought on a couple of guests during his shows. The doors open at 8:00 p.m. for a start at around 8:30. There will be a bar provided by local hostelry, the Carpenter’s Arms. There is ample parking close to the village hall.

This concert is promoted by Phil Davidson and Sore Fingers Summer Schools, and you can obtain tickets by contacting either Phil or John and Moira Wirtz. Contact details are below. Wick Village Hall has a limited capacity so call early to make sure you get your tickets. If wishing to pay by credit card, please contact the SFSS address.

Phil Davidson: +44 (0)117 937 4920; e-mail
John & Moira Wirtz: +44 (0)1373 813590; e-mail